Monday, July 19, 2010

Ventura

Lino Ventura was a huge star in France. I'm not sure if he was that well known in the rest of the world. I had seen films of Belmondo and Delon, but not any of Venturas before moving to France.
Here people often quote from his films, especially Les Tontons Flingueurs and Touchez pas au Grisbi, and as a non-Frenchman you just have to sit there, wondering what the hell they are referring to.
I don't think there are any cult lines of dialogue in Army of Shadows. It's another movie taking place during the Second World War, and it's quite slow and serious. Only after 90 minutes does the film really kick in, when members of the resistance are trying to free a prisoner from the Gestapo headquarter. And then, after 140 minutes, there is the typically bleak Melville ending.

It's a good film, but less fun than Le Doulos.You have to be in the right mood to see it, I guess. It's not an exercise in style that a film noir can often be, and it's in muted colours rather than in black and white. One of the most powerfull sequences is probably the one where four members of the resistance must kill this traitor, just a kid really. They don't want to alarm neighbors by using a gun, so they must strangle him with a towel. It's obvious that none of them have done anything like this before. The camera slowly closes in on all their faces while you hear the sound of the strangulation.

Lino Ventura also did Le Deuxième Souffle for Melville, which I haven't seen, but that film is unfortunately not part of the box. Next, to end this thing, is Le Cercle Rouge and Un Flic, starring Alain Delon.

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